A Book of Affirmation for Black Boys
Today my first children’s book went live on Amazon.com. It is entitled, Yes, Junior! Junior is my grandson. He was born with Congenital Heart Defect which required him to have surgery within twenty-four hours after his birth. He did not suffer from low birth weight nor was he delivered pre-matures. Doctors discovered that this trouble with his heart while his mother was still pregnant with him. He was also born with one underdeveloped lung. Doctors had no explanation as to why Junior was born this way. Other than these two “abnormalities” he is a perfectly normal little boy. Despite his many surgeries and difficulties as an infant, Junior has grown to be a fun loving, energetic boy. He loves to run, jump and play and makes excellent grades in school. He is a real little boy. He is a real little Black boy.
I was inspired to write Yes, Junior! one day as I was looking at the book No, David! I was introduced to this book in the late nineties when it was a part of the Scholastic Book Fair at the school where I was serving as assistant principal. It is the story of a little Caucasian boy, who like many boys is rambunctious, and is always doing something that causes his mother to respond to many of his actions with the word “No!” My granddaughter loves this book, requiring that it be read several times during any of her visits. While picking the book up off the floor to put it away it occurred to me that boys are always being told, “No.” What if there was a book where boys heard the word, “Yes.” I could not think of anyone else to feature in the book other than my grandson Zachary whom we call “Junior.” Junior is as rambunctious as any boy and I am sure that his mother tells him “no” on many occasions. Now, there would be a book where Junior and other little boys would hear about what they can do in opposed to what they should not do.
Upon completion of Yes, Junior! I realized what a powerful book it could be if used in the right way. It starts off as the story of a little boy who is born with an extremely challenging health condition. Yet, with the encouragement of his parents along with their affirmations, he set to learn of many brilliant African American men who despite social, political, and other systemic obstacles did magnificent things that changed the world. Some of the characters in the book are well known to most people. Some are not as famous to us living in the United States but are worthy of recognition and acknowledgment for their contributions to humankind.
As the mother of two sons, I have a special affinity for Black boys. I have witnessed first-hand how they are sometimes treated with contempt in many arenas including public schools where all children should be cared for equally. I have observed where school operations favored girls over boys in areas of dress and hair style. Girls are often allowed to hit boys simple because they “feel like it” and boys are punished if they retaliate. Boys in school who appear too “active” are often misunderstood and receive punitive responses instead of needed understanding or counseling.
Noted author Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu warned long ago of the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys. Systemic racism relegates Black men to positions where, even when raised under similar conditions, they earn less money than their White male counterparts. Studies have long shown that the number of prisons built in the United States is determine by the reading level indicated on standardized test in as low as third grade. We can look on any social media or news outlet and see the daily inequality that Black boys face when dealing with this country’s justice system.
It is important that Black boys know that there are many Black men who have accomplished feats that enhanced life on this planet. It was equally important to me that the readers of this book learn that great Black men exists throughout the globe and that history notes that innovative, ingenious Black men have existed throughout the ages.
Although Yes, Junior! is the story of a Black boy and features Black men, it is recommended for boys of any ethnic background. It tells the truth of the contributions of Black men causing any boy to admire such accomplishment and aspire to do great things in this world.
Yes, Junior! is available at Amazon.com.
Juwanza Kunjufu. Africanamericanimages.com